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The 12 Astrological Houses: Interpreting Your Birth Chart Beyond the Zodiac

October 07,2018 01:17

Welcome, cosmic warriors. I'm Aliza Kelly Faragher, your resident astrologer, and this is Allure Astrology, a column dedicated to astrology, esotericism, and all things magick. Today, rather than looking up at the stars, we're looking down at our birth ...


Welcome, cosmic warriors. I'm Aliza Kelly Faragher, your resident astrologer, and this is Allure Astrology, a column dedicated to astrology, esotericism, and all things magick. Today, rather than looking up at the stars, we're looking down at our birth charts. Get ready to learn about the astrological houses.
Stargazers who spend time researching their own signs have likely come across the concept of the Houses. For many of us, horoscopes are the gateway into greater astrological curiosity. As we begin following them, we become more familiar with — and interested in — the many moving pieces of our birth charts.

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Each planet, asteroid, or celestial point exists within a House, and that placement offers invaluable insight not just about your own personality, but also how you coexist with the world around you. Moreover, the Houses are a roadmap for understanding your past, present, and future. As the planets in the sky move across these domains, different events — both tangible and emotional — are triggered.

The birth chart is a snapshot of the sky at your moment of birth.

If this all sounds rather extraordinary, well, it is. The Houses are truly what make astrology so spectacular. Each House signifies a component of life, but none of these subsections exist within a silo: The Twelve Houses also operate as a single unit, a collective that comprises the entire 360-degree wheel. Their geometric rhythm is a symbolic representation of an individual’s complete cosmology. To understand the meaning of the Houses in your own life, calculate your birth chart by simply plugging your time, date, and location of birth into astrology software, like what Astro.com offers](https://www.astro.com/), and follow along below. Though the Houses are fairly complex, I'll try to explain them as simply as possible.
What Are The Houses?
The birth chart is divided into twelve equal sections, which comprise the Houses. The number twelve surfaces often in astrology — after all, it’s a perfect numerical. However, do not get confused, as the Houses are not the same as the zodiac wheel, which is based on the sun’s yearly rotational movement. Instead, the Houses reflect the earth’s own 24-hour rotation around its axis. Accordingly, when reading a birth chart, astrologers fuse these two systems together.
Since the Houses rotate every 24 hours, it is essential to use your correct time of birth when calculating your chart. The Houses also shift every four minutes, so even individuals born on the same day will have radically different natal charts depending on whether their birth time was morning or night.
Why is that a big deal? Astrologer Lisa Stardust tells Allure, “The Houses in an astrology chart represent different facets of your life, based on the time and location of birth, and show the gifts or obstacles you will face in this lifetime.” In other words, if the birth time is incorrect, your entire astrological cosmology will be inaccurate, and that’s obviously a bummer.
Now that you’ve calculated your birth chart (with the accurate time, of course), what do you do next? How do you even begin to read this thing? Up next, find out how to transform your birth chart into your celestial compass.
The Language Of The Houses
When you look at your chart for the very first time, it’s hard to know exactly where to direct your focus. There are certain areas that are filled with symbols, while others are entirely empty. Which way is up? Which is down? And what do those symbols mean?
As it turns out, reading a chart is actually extremely straightforward. But to get started, you first need to find your anchor: the Ascendant. Also known as the rising sign, the Ascendant is the furthest left point of the central horizon line and quite literally reveals which zodiac sign was emerging from the eastern horizon at your exact moment of birth.

Aliza Kelly Faragher
While the sun exposes our truth and the moon reflects our emotions, the Ascendant reveals our personal landscape. What kind of landscape are we working with? For instance, communication will be a central theme in the life of a Gemini Ascendant, whereas innovation, progress, and nonconformity will define an Aquarius Ascendant’s experience.
The Ascendant also reveals the chart’s ruling planet. Someone with a Sagittarius Ascendant, for instance, is ruled by generous Jupiter, whereas a Pisces Ascendant is living in a Neptunian world.
We use the Ascendant not only to gauge our individual terrain but also create the chart’s distinctive architecture. Birth charts are read counterclockwise with the Ascendant's horizontal line delineating the First House. We follow the sections, or Houses, and on the right side of the horizon line at the Descendent, we start to make our way to the top of the chart. Finally, we conclude the cycle with the Twelfth House, the section that borders the Ascendant to the north.

Once we identify the way each planet and sign work together, we look to the Houses to discover exactly where that energy is manifesting.

As you trace your birth chart, you may find that you have many planets in certain houses (in fact, four or more planets in a single house is called a stellium), while others may be completely empty. That’s absolutely normal. The birth chart is simply a snapshot of the sky at your moment of birth, and since most celestial bodies travel in clusters, they often stay close together. However, although the empty areas don’t signify deficiencies, the locations of the planets do reveal important information.
Interpreting The Houses In Your Own Birth Chart
After you’ve anchored yourself at the Ascendant, you can begin to identify which Houses the planets occupy in your birth chart. To begin this process, think of each planet’s specific function: Mercury is a messenger, Venus is a matchmaker, and Mars is a warrior. The way in which the planet operates, however, is influenced by its zodiac sign. Mercury in serious Capricorn, for instance, will communicate logically and rationally; Venus in elusive Scorpio adores mysterious romance; Mars in protective Cancer tends to have an indirect approach to battle, and so on.
Once we identify the way each planet and sign work together, we look to the Houses to discover exactly where that energy is manifesting. Is Venus-Scorpio in the Second House of material objects, which would make an individual especially drawn to financially stable lovers? Or is Venus-Scorpio in the Ninth House of travel, which would signify a penchant for long-distance romance? That’s right, cosmic warriors, the planets within the Houses reveal the full scope of our experience and the nuances of our personality.

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Although our natal planets in the birth chart remain stationary, the planets in the sky are constantly moving across our different Houses. In other words, a certain period of life will embody the essence of that House. Each planet has its own orbit, but since we follow the sun’s 365-day cycle, we go through a complete solar cycle of all the Houses every year.
Now that you understand the importance of the Houses in astrology, let’s delve into each one.
Every Astrological House, Explained
The 1st House
Defined by the Ascendant, the First House defines you. It represents the body you were born with, your physical appearance, and your general temperament. Natal planets that occupy the First House tend to have a very strong influence in that person's life (for instance, Mercury in the First House is a sign of a chatterbox, while the moon in the First House reveals someone who wears emotions on their sleeve). Since this is the first stop in the cycle, when planets in the sky transit into this house, our goals are manifested, and new projects, ideas, or perspectives finally take form. This House corresponds with Aries energy.
The 2nd House
The Second House is related to our personal finances, material possessions, and the concept of value. Natal planets in the Second House tend to seek security through their material world. Planets transiting the Second House reveal changes in resources or self-esteem. This House corresponds with Taurus energy.
The 3rd House
Communication, transportation, and local community are all governed by the third house. Natal planets in the Third House are motivated by expression and often build close relationships with their peers, including siblings, coworkers, and classmates. When planets transit the Third House, we often receive important information about our immediate network. This House corresponds with Gemini energy.
The 4th House
The Fourth House sits at the base of the chart and symbolizes home and family. Natal planets in the Fourth House reveal an individual’s relationship with the maternal figure, as well as their unique outlook on domesticity. Planets moving across the Fourth House often encourage us to invest in our infrastructure by creating more private, nurturing spaces within. This House corresponds with Cancer energy.
The 5th House
This playful zone of the fifth house is linked to creativity, romance, and children. Natal planets in the Fifth House are linked to your intrinsic artistic expression, while planets transiting the Fifth House often deliver eureka moments that boost our confidence. This House corresponds with Leo energy.

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The 6th House
The Sixth House corresponds with health, wellness, and daily routines, including odd jobs. Whereas the body you’re born with exists in the First House, the choices made over a lifetime create the body found in your Sixth House. Those with natal planets in this zone are often fueled by organization and structure and tend to focus on time and calendar management. Planets transiting the Sixth House help us form habits and redefine our schedules. This House corresponds with Virgo energy.
The 7th House
The Seventh House (the Descendent) sits directly across from the First House Ascendant. Up until now, all the Houses explore an individual's immediate world: Their money, home, and friends. In the Seventh House, however, the concept of perspective is introduced. Simply put, the Seventh House symbolizes your “cosmic plus one.” Those with natal planets in the Seventh House tend to be very focused on relationships, gravitating towards partnership in all areas of life. Planets moving through the Seventh House help us close deals, securing our bonds by signing contracts and making things official. This House corresponds with Libra energy.
The 8th House
I often refer to the Eighth House as the “haunted house” of the birth chart. More frequently, this zone is the area of sex, death, and transformation. Those with natal planets in the Eighth House are often attracted to supernatural or occult topics, intense romances, and will likely regenerate often within their lifetime. Planets transiting this area help us understand the underbelly of any situation and serve as a reminder of life’s complexities. This House corresponds with Scorpio energy.
The 9th House
Travel, philosophy, and higher education all define the ninth house. In medieval astrology, this region was linked to places and people outside of your village. Now, we interpret this area as both literal and intellectual exploration. Those born with natal planets in the Ninth House are extremely curious and inquisitive, with deep-rooted wanderlust. When planets move across the Ninth House we often begin studying a new topic, move to a foreign location, or adopt a completely different perspective. This House corresponds with Sagittarius energy.
The 10th House
The Tenth House, located at the very top of the birth chart, is the apex of your unique story. The highest point, the Midheaven, is often embedded in your Tenth House and signifies the height of your success. The Tenth House also governs public image, professional aspirations, and career achievements. Natal planets in the Tenth House reveal an ambitious individual, and changes in the profession often occur when planets transit this zone. This House corresponds with Capricorn energy.
The 11th House
As the houses begin their descent, the Eleventh House helps us remember the purpose of our hard work. The Eleventh House is linked to humanitarian pursuits, as well as our distant network. Technology and innovation also exist within this zone, so those born with planets in the Eleventh House are often defined by their revolutionary ideas. Transiting planets through this domain help us broaden our reach as we define our role within society. This House corresponds with Aquarius energy.
The 12th House
In the sky, the Twelfth House exists just beneath the horizon: It’s quite literally the darkness before dawn. Likewise, the Twelfth House is considered the “unseen realm,” and governs all things that exist without physical forms, like dreams, secrets, and emotions. Those born with planets in the Twelfth House are often highly intuitive, perhaps even psychic. We attract karmic people into our lives when planets transit the Twelfth House, but during this time, we must also remember that not all relationships are meant to last. This House corresponds with Pisces energy.
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